Marla Benton | Episode 273
Marla Benton’s work is colourful, humorous, and playful. Marla’s clay pieces are influenced by everyday adventures combined with nature, children, and daily living. Marla earned her education through the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the Ontario College of Art and Design (BFA), and Nipissing University (BED). Through all her experiences, Marla has been exposed to many different materials. Marla found that clay is the most complimentary medium, as she loves to play in mud, sculpting three dimensional, fanciful objects that echo the joys in her life.
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How would you define an artist?
I guess the big thing for me to define an artist is that you have this inner drive to create. They have an inner drive to create or re-create something that they are inspired from.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I guess it depends. In some ways I would like to have a little more consistency in my career, so I am not always searching for the next grant available or trying to call as many galleries as possible. I guess in five years I hope that maybe the calls are coming to me a little more so that galleries are calling me and wanting to represent me.
In what ways do you see yourself holding yourself back?
I have spent the last five years putting our daughter and my family first and that transition to finding my own time and my own space and making a priority for it is definitely a challenge. Part of my personality is being a giver so I tend to want to take care of their needs and make sure everybody is happy around me and then my time comes in and sometimes I don’t get that time. I think that is part of it and also not having a structured work time. You have to make an effort to block off that section of time.
What is one thing you have done recently that helped you move ahead and how does that help you think about what to do next?
That is a tough question. I guess I have said no to a couple of things and that is something that is really hard for me to do so being asked to volunteer for this thing at school or donate to this other thing. I have got enough on my plate right now with this that and the other thing, that I can’t keep taking more on. So that was one big step that felt really good the first time I said, no I’m sorry. I think knowing when you can’t take on anything else whether for work, or socially or as a volunteer.
Now that you are back in gear making , what motivates you to want to back in gear?
It’s pretty intrinsic. I just want to keep making work and I’ve got a sketchbook full of ideas. I feel like I need to keep moving forward and I need to either keep finding venues for my work or ways I can afford to make my work. It feels good. I love being in my studio. I am typically an introverted person and that time in my studio is energizing. It makes me a happier person which I think my family benefits from.
If you could bring one artist back from the dead who would it be and why?
My first reaction to that was Van Gogh. It’s all about how he inspired me as a teenager. I copied paintings and I copied drawings of his work and I loved it. When I think back to high school and wondering, what am I doing with my life, he was my favorite artist. The idea that he worked hard and never sold any of his work and the fact that he just kept creating and creating without financial success. I would totally love to meet him.